Astros’ Justin Verlander could reach strikeout milestones at the Angels’ expense

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander delivers against the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 12.
(Associated Press)

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1. Justin Verlander could join Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez, Steve Carlton, Curt Schilling and Randy and Walter Johnson in the 300/3,000 club. Verlander needs 17 strikeouts over his final two starts –- both scheduled against the Angels –- to post his first 300-strikeout season. The Houston Astros right-hander also needs 11 strikeouts to reach 3,000 for his career. Of the 17 pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts, the only ones not in the Hall of Fame are Roger Clemens, CC Sabathia (still active) and Schilling. Astros teammate Zack Greinke this week passed former Angels anchor Chuck Finley for 26th on the all-time list, but check out the three names that follow Finley, in order: Tom Glavine, Warren Spahn, and Bob Feller, all Hall of Famers.

2. Heartwarming story of the week: San Francisco Giants rookie Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Red Sox icon Carl Yastrzemski, hitting a home run in his first career game at Fenway Park -– and in front of his 80-year-old grandfather, the 1967 American League MVP. Behind the story: Mike Yastrzemski became the first Giants rookie to hit 20 homers in a season since 1972. The Dodgers have had six rookies do so since then: Greg Brock (1983), Eric Karros (1992), Mike Piazza (1993), Joc Pederson (2015), Corey Seager (2016) and Cody Bellinger (2017).

3. Congratulations to Don Mattingly, whose contract extension with the Miami Marlins means he replaced a one-year offer to remain as the Dodgers’ manager with at least six years in Miami. Managing people is a more important skill for a manager than managing games, and Mattingly appears to be an ace. He has worked for mercurial owners Frank McCourt, Jeffrey Loria and Derek Jeter –- and has never been fired.

Jaime Barria did not have a feel for his slider and allowed three first-inning home runs in the Angels’ 6-4 loss to the first-place Astros.



1. Bryce Harper got $330 million from the Philadelphia Phillies last winter, and Manny Machado got $300 million from the San Diego Padres, and … well, their old teams fared much better than their new teams. The Dodgers are in the playoffs without Machado, and the Washington Nationals probably will secure a wild-card berth without Harper. Neither Harper nor Machado made the All-Star team. Harper entered the weekend ranked 33rd in WAR and 44th in OPS, with Machado 67th in WAR and 83rd in OPS. Harper is 26, Machado 27, and the contracts are so long that the Phillies and Padres need not fret yet. But Mike Trout, whom the Angels re-signed for $426.5 million, is first in WAR and second in OPS. Of course, his team did not make the playoffs either.

2. The Giants’ Bruce Bochy, bound for the Hall of Fame, this week became the 11th manager to win 2,000 games. In his first victory, the Padres’ 13-1 rout of the Houston Astros in 1995, the losing team used four pitchers. In his 2,00th victory, an 11-3 rout of the Red Sox, the losing team used eight pitchers. On the previous night, in a 15-inning win, Bochy used 13 pitchers, five of whom got no more than one out.

3. The Pittsburgh Pirates cleaned out closer Felipe Vazquez’s locker after he was arrested Monday and charged with several felonies, including sexual assault of a minor. The arrest capped a turbulent season in which pitcher Kyle Crick injured his hand in a clubhouse fight with Vazquez, pitcher Keone Kela was suspended after clashing with a coach, and another coach was suspended after clashing with Crick. Attendance is down 40% in five years, and Pittsburgh hasn’t won a playoff series since Barry Bonds played there. In the wake of the Vazquez arrest, the team president issued a statement that concluded: “. . . the organization, our staff and players cannot comment any further at this time.” The staff and players then commented.